Abbey of St Gall
The Abbey of St Gall had a great influence on the development of monastic architecture and is considered to be a typical example of the large Benedictine monastery.
The beginnings of the monastery can be traced back to 612, when the itinerant Irish monk Gallus had established his hermit's cell in this valley. The area soon became a centre of cult-worship.
In 719 this blended into a monastic community, where the Regula Benedicti was introduced.
It was during the abbacy of Gozbert (816-837) that the so-called Golden Age of St. Gall began. Most impressive remains of this period are the Convent's library and archive, containing 150.000 books including numerous treasures.
Map of Abbey of St GallLoad map
After many years, thanks to a visit from Ian, I finally did a revisit of the abbey and its marvellous library. As mentioned in previous reviews, it is really the library the pulls this site out of mediocracy. We headed straight for the library of course. The ticket also includes the library, a museum in the basement and an exhibition room in another building. Pictures are not allowed in any of these rooms, but you really only want them from the library.
Entering the library still requires to put on slippers and there is always a knowledgeable employee present who can give you some details about the construction. A secret attraction is the mummy “Schepenese” in the far right corner. There are currently efforts by a local artist to bring the mummy back to Egypt. So visit, while she is still around.
The museum is ok, but nothing extraordinary. There is some information about Gallus, an Irish monk after whom St Gall is named. The exhibition room houses the world’s oldest monastery archive. This is actually interesting. There are documents about common problems of the time, including the separation of land between St Gall and nearby Constance.
We finished the visit in the church, which looks clearly better from the inside than the outside, before continuing to nearby Reichenau Monastic Island.
St Gall is quite a nice town, especially the monastic quarter around the abbey. While there, you should eat the St. Galler Bratwurst (eaten only with bread, no mustard allowed).
I visited this WHS in June 2014. Having visited quite a number of monasteries and abbeys in Europe before, I wasn't impressed by the huge complex of churches, chapels, gardens, monastery buildings, etc. especially since they seemed to be relatively new or heavily restored and my first impression was "this is just another abbey like many other on the list". However, I left the Abbey Library for last and what a pleasant surprise it was. I spent at least 2 hours gazing at the pristine library full of old parchment books, an original mummy and a sarcophagus from the Hatsheput Temple in Egypt and a replica of a gorgeous globe (the original is housed in a museum in Zurich). For 12 euros, I got the entrance ticket with the very informative audio guide, wore special footwear over my shoes to protect the wooden floor and for most of the time I had the magnificent place to myself. That said, the number of visitors at a time can be around 100, so it's best to avoid weekends, public holidays or peak hours. I could have spent more time just gazing at the wonderful library as the only downside was that of getting a stiff neck! The library alone to me has OUV and is a jem everyone should behold!
Since ancient time Sankt Gallen, the capital city of the canton of the same name, was well known for its magnificent abbey which was one of most important monastery in this region and was on my wish list to see for a long time. During my Switzerland tour, I took the Voralpen scenic train from Lucerne to Sankt Gallen, the scenery of pre-alpine region was really pretty and I highly recommended using this train as a mean of transportation to enter the city.
From the train station, it was very easy to reach the abbey by just walk along the lovely car free shopping street until you started to notice the huge complex on your right. The complex was very large with many buildings built encircled the cathedral. Actually I was quite disappointed with the complex's exterior, apart from the cathedral; these buildings were really plain with nothing significant to mention. The unbelievable greenish lawn and the two towers of the cathedral apse were the things to see. However for cathedral's interior, I was really impressed with the beautiful Rococo style and in my opinion, the green stucco decorating the naves were very unique as I had never seen this color in Rococo decoration before.
The monastic library was another highlight of this abbey, hiding in the very plain building both exterior and interior which made me not sure that I was in the correct place, but when I worn the big slippers, for protecting the wooden floor, and entered into the library, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of one of the most beautiful library in the world. The style of library was also Rococo with amazingly beautiful bookshelves and wonderful white stucco around the ceiling fresco, a real jewel of Switzerland. Sadly that photograph was not allowed.
I really enjoyed my day in Sankt Gallen, this city was a very nice place to visit, and the abbey was deserved to be a UNESCO World heritage Site. My only regret was that I had to cancel my plan to visit Richenau of Germany, another monastic WHS that claimed to have strong link with the abbey of Sankt Gallen due to the shopping street was very tempting with many local and international brands! But this maybe a good reason to revisit this area again in the near future!
When my flight to Malta and its 3 WHS was canceled because of the volcano, I made a nice train trip instead to St. Gall in Switzerland. It is a medium-sized town with a very pleasant centre full of historic buildings and half-timbered houses. The religious complex in the immediate city centre, consisting of the cathedral and the convent, is a World Heritage Site. Both buildings have a medieval (Carolingian) origin, but were heavily rebuilt in Baroque style. Both are quite nice, but the unmissable part is the library. You can actually only visit one room, but it is full of books and manuscripts that are up to 1,200 years old. A must-see for any history buff.
The greatest thing about St Gall is its old world-known library. It is of immense historic value and still contains unique manuscripts. Otherwise, the medieval monastery was heavily modified to suit the Baroque taste and the result I do not find that impressive.
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2013 Name change
From "Convent of St. Gall" to "Abbey of St. Gall"
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